In China, they rule the streets. Dancing grannies can be seen in parks and plazas across the country, waving their hands to the blaring beats of EDM-infused pop hits, unfazed by smog, angry neighbors or traffic rules.

But Chinese square dancing (广场跳舞) is not just a convenient way for older people to socialize and exercise, it is an industry worth RMB 1 trillion. It is also sparking a wave of tech innovation aimed at a 120 million-strong population which have mostly been left out of the technological boom: The dancing aunties or  “dama” (大妈), mostly comprised of female retirees born in the 1950s or 60s.

A great portion of the industry belongs to online retail. To complement their performance with costumes and props, many middle-aged dancing queens are pestering younger members of the family to teach them online shopping. Sales of square dancing-related items, such as loudspeakers and costumes, reportedly add up to a conservative estimate of RMB 25 million a month.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.